Posts tagged reviews

Who Watches the Watchmen?

For the record, I just want to say that I wasn’t one of those people who rushed to finish the comic book right before watching the movie. I read the book a few years back, thanks to the recommendation of a good friend of mine, and truly loved it for what it was. Admittedly, I was rushing to try and re-read the whole thing right before the movie because I wanted to have a fresh memory of it in its original form.

There were a lot of good things, and definitely a lot of bad things about the movie adaptation.

Mainly, I would like to applaud the entire cast– everyone did a wonderful job bringing the characters to life in the big screen. Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl II was my definite favorite– insta-crush for me!!! My favorite character when I read the book is Rorschach; and Walter Kovacs did an amazing, amazing job. Kudos to the acting from everyone in this film.

The visual effects were stunning, of course. I especially love watching Archie (Nite Owl’s ship) come to life! Dr. Manhattan looked surreal AND real at the same time. The scenes on Mars were beautiful, especially the glass structure moving around.

My biggest peeve would have to be with the director, Zack Snyder. I won’t say he’s a bad director or that he did a horrid job. I enjoyed 300 too; but I think he really forced a certain style into Watchmen that worked well with 300, but not with this comic adaptation.

I LOVE stylistic violence. I will admit, I found the violence and gore in Watchmen quite awesome. Though in the end, I have to admit a lot of it was unnecessary.
What was even more embarrassing was the soft core porn between Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II. It was definitely a ‘300 moment sex scene’ that the movie didn’t really need… but then again, that’s just me. I don’t know how many fanboys wet themselves over that scene but I could have done without it. I think the conversation after they had sex in the comic book was more poignant than the actual act itself, and from what I remember… it was completely left out in the movie.

A lot of things stayed true to the original and a lot of the original scenes were kept. I also understand why some things were compressed the way they were for the movie, and I thought the screenplay did a good job shortening the story but still making it cohesive.

Yet, I am still not convinced they really enunciated the right elements of the original story for the movie. In the end, despite the fact that I did enjoy the movie for what it was, I felt it was still very lacking.

I guess all I can say is if I had a choice between watching the movie or re-reading the comic book, I would say I would rather read it than view it. The comic stands stronger still and I think is much more fulfilling.

Restaurant: Yamashiro

I had dinner at Yamashiro Restaurant in Hollywood this past weekend, which is a neat historical spot. The original building was built in 1911 by the Bernheimer brothers to house their collection of Asian treasures. During the Golden Age, it even became a celebrity hang out! You can read more about its history on the restaurant’s website.

The food there was very good, though I wouldn’t recommend going for the sushi. I ordered the salmon in miso cream sauce and my boyfriend ordered the sushi entreé. The sushi was okay– nothing special, but I did expect more for the price for it! It was still good though, but I’ve had better. On the other hand, the salmon was amazing! I loved the taste of the miso cream sauce. We also had the Kurobuta Carnitas appetizer and it was also really good! Again, it was the sauce that made it good, which had a hint of wasabi in it, I think. For dessert, we had the chocolate souffle, which was pretty yummy too. My favorite part of the whole experience though was the sight and location itself. I love how the restaurant feels like an old Japanese castle from Kyoto– it made my geekier side happy! The garden in the center of the restaurant was really pretty too and I kind of want to go back during one of their movie nights.

The menu is a little bit pricey though, so I’m gonna have to save up for another trip there!

Dinner @ Yamashiro /// lychee martini!!!

Stabby, stabby!


We all have our little morbid fascinations and one of mine are serial killers. There are nights when I would peruse websites online and read up on killers throughout history. I don’t do this EVERY night… just once in a blue moon when something perks my interest again. When I heard of Showtime’s new show, Dexter, I wanted to watch it soooo bad…

But. I’m always a late-comer when it comes to new things so I didn’t get to watch the first season till this year (when Netflix placed the entire first season on their watch instantly section. Whoop! Though it was a bitch trying to update my media player on my desktop until I finally managed to update my laptop’s so it would place netflix videos. Fuck you, Netflix, and your Windows Media Player 11 requirement).

Now, I have joined the not-so-massive-maybe?-legion of Dexter lovers.

Michael C. Hall does an amazing job with this character. Yes, there is something very sick about endearing a serial killer… but if you can resist Dexter, then I almost wonder if there’s something wrong with you! It is a unique experience to sympathize with a killer– but Dexter proves it is possible. He is a killer with a code of conduct and he doesn’t have ‘innocent’ victims. Just his own fellow serial killers. He’s a sort of turncoat on his own brotherhood because he’s protecting the other side from people like him.

I mean we all have an urge to kill that guy who cut you off the freeway… but you won’t act on it.

… Right?

Cloverfield

I am finally contributing to this blog, I hope this makes you all happy.

Last summer, all of us saw a strange and mysterious trailer that caused a lot of fuss, and raised a lot of questions. A movie with no name, only a date: 1-18-08. J.J. Abrams, the producer, probably wouldn’t have it any other way.

Today, January 18th of 2008, I saw this film, now known as “Cloverfield”. I was worried that this film would be a disappointment, since all the anticipation caused by the ambiguous trailers and intriguing viral campaigning could most certainly outdo the film itself.

I have to say, the movie lived up to my expectations (and they were quite high). I won’t give away what “it” is that is terrorizing Manhattan exactly, but I will say that the great thing about this movie is that the point of view is always realistic. Everything we see is from a little camcorder, so we experience the terror as any person experiencing it would. The movie did start off a bit slow, but by the time chaos ensues, the story becomes intense, emotional, and at times disturbing, but always very entertaining.

I must warn though, that those of you who are not fans of the “shaky camera” (ala Bourne Supremacy/Ultimatum) will probably become annoyed. The picture can be very unsteady at times, but it is only to try to convey a sense of realism amongst the panic of what is occurring.

This is the type of movie that stays with you long after you’re through watching (which is what I’m sure was intended). Although the actual premise in this film is a bit unlikely (or so we hope), the reaction of the people is not so different than that of a natural catastrophe. You find yourself questioning what your actions would be in such situations. The actions of the characters in the movie are realistic, and not preachy like some of other catastrophe movies. The ending is a bit blunt, but then again, in the real world, endings don’t always have complete closure like they do in the movies.

Of course being a film associated with the cryptic J.J. Abrams, pay attention to the last scene in the movie. It gives a hint to what may have started the entire catastrophe.

And last, but not least, the best part of seeing this movie was getting to see the TEASER TRAILER FOR STAR TREK! Yes, my friends, a teaser trailer for Star Trek. My nerdiness knows no bounds.

~Gizzy

The Golden Compass: Or how to get lost in religious debate


I read the Golden Compass and accompanying books when I was in high school. I found the first one interesting, the second one a bit odd, and the third one terrible. I went away from the trilogy wondering why everyone thought it was amazing.

Fast forward six years. I work in a games company and hang out with people who actually read. One night we got to discussing why I love ‘kids’ books and they assumed I must love the His Dark Materials trilogy. I revealed that I didn’t like it. In actual fact, I was apathetic at that point. I didn’t remember much about it except that it left a bad taste in my mouth when I finished it. They were shocked. They all felt it was a fabulous trilogy, ground breaking etc etc etc.

I began to wonder, had my teenage self miss-judged the series? Was I too self-involved, or uneducated in religious symbolism and history to understand these so-called amazing books? I wasn’t sure. I hardly ever change my opinion on a book, I know what I like and what I don’t like, sometimes I can even articulate why.

So, I decided that with the movie coming out shortly, it was time to reread the trilogy and see if I was incorrect in my first impression. Well…I wasn’t. I still can’t stand them.

The first book starts out well enough, the story is interesting, the characters somewhat compelling. I got annoyed at his bizarre choice to rename common things from our world in Lyra’s just to make it more fantastical. Like he says to himself, “Hmmmmm, how do I create a believable fantasy world with the least amount of effort? I know, I’ll take random words and find different root words for them. It’ll make me look really clever and like I put a lot of effort into it.” This concept irritated me because it threw me out of the story. I would try and imagine the scene in my head only to get stuck on a word and go, “Wait, what the hell is anbaric? Is it gas, electric, candle?” and then have to reread the passage because I’d lost the flow.

But the first book isn’t that bad, all things considered. It holds together pretty well as long as he doesn’t talk about Dust. It’s almost as if even he can’t decide what the hell Dust is.

-Nancy

The second book just isn’t really that memorable. You get through it quickly because you know you need to. Will is so flat as a character and I really just didn’t care about him. It’s also in this book where everyone starts acting more like super heroes than people. The characters are presented as normal in the first book, but suddenly some of them (namely Mrs Coulter) can now do whatever they want, without proper explanation.

The third book is the worst by far. It’s long and blustery and mostly pointless. More and more the characters have these insane abilities and knowledge of what they have to do, and considering this is mostly a war to get rid of God, they sure seemed blessed with powers to do so. But more on that later. My real gripe with the third one is the terrible editing. There’s a good three chapters about a stupid bomb that has nothing WHAT SO EVER to do with the main plot. You could rip those pages out and nothing would be lost. Nothing. What kind of editor did this man have? Next gripe is those weird mulefas. I mean, come on. It’s the same problem Star Wars books have, they create these absolutely mind blowing creatures that I can’t even begin to imagine so I’m stuck with this ugly horse/elephant/on roller skates in my head.

And can we stop being all “Oooooooh be one with the earth” crap? Yes, we get it, their world is perfectly fucking balanced. It’s so simplistically balanced they can explain it with elephant trunks! Not like our world where we can only begin to understand the causes and effects of the environment on larger scales and can’t comprehend it on small scale at all. Yeah, that’s a great piece of writing; let’s point out the flaws of humanity by making a metaphor that doesn’t work.

Finally, the ending of the third book just sucks. But, that’s not really a gripe with his writing so much as it made me regret reading the whole series because it’s such a downer. I’m not even one that has to have happy endings, but after all that bullshit you read through to get to the end and that’s it? Shit, I’d rather watch Old Yeller.

Now, about this whole religious controversy, everyone keeps saying it’s promoting atheism. Well, the definition of atheism is “the doctrine or belief that there is no God.” It seems to me that if they’re going to war with “The Authority” then in the terms that we have defined Atheism, the book isn’t promoting atheism because it states there is a God. The important point is Pullman is saying the God we’ve come to believe isn’t the creator, but that doesn’t mean he’s saying there isn’t one. So, get off his back and stop giving the Atheists a bad name.

As for whether or not Pullman is having a go at the Catholic church, well, considering he’s having a war on the one true God (which involves several religions, let’s not get self-obsessed here) then he’s really writing a book against all organized religions. So, everybody should be pissed off, not just the Catholics.

Personally, I don’t see why the church is paying any attention. Whatever his book is saying, it’s badly written and confusing so why pay it any heed? They’re just drawing more attention to it. I think their time is much better spent banning Harry Potter which is at least teaching children morals and that doing what is right isn’t easy. God wouldn’t want that now would he/she?

Run Arnie, run!

I watched The Running Man last night. It’s an ’80s Arnold Schwarzenegger film. It was recommended to me by some co-workers who said it was hilarious. While it was funny, I think they were ‘helped’ by some other substances to classify it as hilarious.

It’s your generic post-apocolyptic police state setting. Arnie’s a wronged cop trying to escape ‘the man’ only to get caught up in…a game show. Oh yes, your all-American, let’s kill people for fun, game show.

That’s basically the whole plot right there. It is well worth a watch if your in the mood for a cheesy action film where any dialogue is a one liner and you want to see women in lycra. Barring that, it’s probably best seen as WWF/Mr Universe reunion film, since half the cast seemed to be body builders. You also get to see Jesse Venture walk around dressed as a computer, for about 30 seconds.

It’s mostly worth noting because even though it is at times ridiculous, the plot actually holds together, which is something I didn’t expect.

In other geek news: I watched the first and second episodes of the new season of Heroes. So far, I’m quite pleased. Although, I think Claire is a bit off her rocker. I mean why the toe?? Was that necessary? And that kid outside her window is just down right creepy. I’d probably hit him if we went to high school together.

I also like to pretend Suresh and Matt Parkman are gay lovers raising a child together. I don’t know why, but it makes me feel all fuzzy.

-Nancy

Bionic Woman Remake

I’ve never seen the original series but I was drawn to the re-make series that just aired on NBC tonight. Why? Because Katee Sackhoff is in it– Starbuck of Battlestar Galactica! She was pretty awesome in this show, playing the bad guy. Or the bad bionic girl.

THEN…! Guess who made a cameo?? Aaron Douglas, most famously known as the lovable Chief from BSG! I squealed like a fantard.

Sometimes, the characters are better than the series, know what I’m saying?

I’m not sure if I’ll stay very loyal to this re-make of Bionic Woman. The fight scenes are pretty cool (I’m a sucker for good action sequences…), and Katee will probably keep me watching for awhile. It takes a lot to get me to become completely loyal to a television series.

Wicked

I recently saw Wicked in London. I had read the book several years ago and had been given the soundtrack by a friend. Trying to work out the plot of the musical in relation to the songs was interesting. I realised very quickly that lots had changed from the book, but I was ok with that, as I hadn’t been thrilled with how the book had ended (even though I knew part of it was inevitable, it was how the author handled the inevitable.) At any rate, I really fell in love with the songs and wanted to go see it properly.

I hadn’t been to see a musical in a long time. I used to work in theatre so more often than not I was working the musical rather than seeing it. So, watching it properly was in itself an interesting experience.

The set design was really interesting. It was sort of a frame, with a large mechanical dragon at the top (No, there is no dragon in the play or in Oz at any point in any book, but it looked cool.) Then kind of gears and metal work down the sides with rope lights intertwined. The rest of the sets were generally minimal, but that was ok. It didn’t need to be overly complex, it worked better with the simplicity of the original Oz story.

Now, as soon as the musical started, it was clear that you need to view it as an entirely different entity to the book. It has practically nothing but names in common with the book. It’s one of the more interesting interpretations really. Bear in mind, the book Wicked is an interpretation of a children’s book. The musical is an interpretation of an interpretation, and in some ways comes full circle and becomes more like a fairy tale of the original story.

It has the mixture of the book turning the original Oz world on it’s head and looking at it differently, but it gets rid of the darker side that Gregory Maguire wrote about. It’s also added greater depth to some of the relationships than there ever were in the book.

What I think is the final interesting point is that it is truly a musical reflective of the time it was written in. So many of its themes are about political themes current today. It is, in many ways, an allegory, but a well done allegory. It’s not subtle, but it’s not a hammer to the head either.

I’m not going to give away the plot, because I think everyone should go see it. Yeah, so it’s only in London right now, but if it ever comes your way, go see it. It seems simple on the surface, but look a bit deeper and go down the rabbit hole. Or tornado, whatever.